Christ First UMC | 663 Lakeview Avenue | Jamestown NY 14701

February 2024 - The Privilege of Prayer

The Privilege of Prayer
Prayer is the first and best place to start. So, in the spirit of that, let’s pray: “Lord, guide me as I write about prayer. Give fresh insight to those who read this. May we all take amazing strides forward in prayer as a result. Teach us to pray. In the matchless name of  Jesus. Amen.”

The Call to Prayer: Colossians 4:2 tells us, “Devote yourselves to prayer…”
 I Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Never stop praying.” Isn’t that enough? Let us declare 2024 is a year of prayer!

Why Pray? There are several practical reasons why we should pray. The Holy Scriptures are full of reasons why we should pray. Here are just of few: Genesis 18:20-33 lets us know that prayer  sometimes changes God’s mind. Here Abraham is praying for the people of  Sodom, asking God to change His mind about bringing down destruction. God did change His mind, but then Abraham stopped short of going all the way with his request. Therefore, Sodom was destroyed. Prayer changes attitudes and events. The people of Israel were rebellious. God was angry and was going to destroy them. Moses interceded on their behalf. God’s attitude changed toward the people and He spared them. Nehemiah 1:5-11 demonstrates that prayer clarifies purpose and direction. Jesus makes it clear in Luke 10:2 that if the Kingdom of God and His Church on earth is going to grow, we must pray! You may recall   Jesus told the disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the    harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Prayer brings us into a closer relationship with God (Psalm 5:1-3). There is much more I could bring to you. In short, prayer puts us in touch with God and with ourselves. Prayer   results in the power of God being revealed. Prayer changes things!

When to Pray: We already noted I Thessalonians 5:17, “Never stop praying.” But there are other times to pray. Pray when you’re anxious (Philippians 4:6). Pray when you have significant decisions to make (Luke 6:12, Jesus was preparing to select his disciples). Pray when you are tempted (Matthew 26:40-41). Pray when you or someone else needs healing or help (James 5:13-15). Again, there are many more examples to be found in Scripture.

How to Pray: I think the most well-known model for prayer that we find in the Bible comes from Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. We know it as “The Lord’s Prayer.” Again, I think Jesus gave this as a model, rather than a rote prayer. Learning it by rote, though, gives us the basis for freely expressing our hearts to God.  Another less familiar and longer model of prayer is found in Acts 4:24-30. Another simple model for prayer that I have used often is A.C.T.S. of prayer:

Adoration is the pinnacle of worship. In  adoration we are focused on God and all He is, i.e., holy, righteous, loving, just, gracious, worthy, all-powerful, all-knowing, etc. Romans 12:1  reminds us, “Brothers and  sisters, in view of all we have just shared about God’s compassion, I  encourage you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate for you.”

Confession is a necessary part of effective prayer. It is agreeing with God about our actions / inactions. James (5:16) writes, “So admit your sins to each other, and pray for each other so that you will be healed.    Prayers offered by those who have God’s approval are effective.”

Thanksgiving is given to God for who He is, what He has done for us, etc. Paul writes (Colossians 2:7), “Sink your roots in him and build on him. Be strengthened by the faith that you were taught, and overflow with thanksgiving.”

Supplication is asking for God’s help. It    requires humility on our part. Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray in the Spirit in every situation. Use every kind of prayer and request (supplication) there is. For the same reason be alert. Use every kind of effort and make every kind of request (supplication) for all of God’s people.”

Now Pray!
1. Pray for personal renewal, hunger for God and His Word.
2. Pray for a new openness to the Holy  Spirit, signs and wonders.
3. Pray for a missional heart, longing to see others come to Christ.
4. Pray for a willingness to act, to be a part of what God is doing!
5. Pray, pray, pray!

God’s mercy and grace be extended to and through you!
Pastor Jenni Piatt

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